The Bengal Merchant was built in
Calcutta in 1812 and was taken up by the
East India Company in 1813. The Bengal Merchant was sold to Joseph Somes in 1834.
The Convicts came from counties in England and Scotland. Some
had been tried and convicted at the Old Bailey and incarcerated in Newgate
Select here to find out what it may
have been like to be imprisoned in Newgate in 1834 - 35.
From Newgate and other county prisons the men were transferred to the Hulks to await
Thomas Bewick who had been convicted of
larceny in Durham on 22 February 1834, was transferred to the
Jusitita Hulk on 14th March 1834 and transferred to the Bengal
Merchant with many others on 19th September 1834. Those in the Fortitude hulk were taken to
the Bengal Merchant on 23 September 1834.
Bengal Merchant departed Sheerness on 1st October 1834.
The Guard consisted of 2 sergeants, 27 rank and file of the 50th
regiment under command of Capt. McDonald and Ensign Cobbin.
Passengers included Mrs. McDonald, Miss McDonald, Misses Eliza,
Charlotte, Emily, Louisa, Sarah and Elizabeth McDonald, Masters
Charles and Richard McDonald, 10 women (soldiers wives) and 13
Detachments of the
50th regiment arrived on the
Henry Tanner and
James Ellis kept a Medical Journal from 6th September 1834 to 20
February 1835. He found that catarrh and bowel complaints appeared
almost immediately on their coming on board, and the sick list
increased while at sea with many and various complaints and among
them several cases of inflammatory fever, of which one prisoner,
John Stroud died. Two more prisoners also died on the passage out.
On the 17 December scurvy made it appearance and rapidly
increased so much so that seventy seven cases of the disease had
been under treatment, the principal features of the disease were a
debilitated state of body, sallow complexion, spongy and bleeding
gums, stiffness and swellings of the joints particularly the knees,
and sometimes yellow and greenish blotches on the trunk and
extremities. The surgeon's recourse was the vegetable acids and also
the solution of nitre in vinegar lately so strongly recommended, to
one portion of cases. Lime juice alone was administered in doses of
two ounces, three, four or five times in the day to others.
The Bengal Merchant
made a direct passage and arrived in Port Jackson on
Friday 30 January 1835.
The prisoners were supposed to be landed in the week beginning the
8th February, however the Sydney Monitor reported on the 14th
and the 21st that the Bengal Merchant was still lying in
the stream with prisoners on board. The heat was so excessive in
Sydney at this time that it was reported that over thirty bullocks
had dropped dead from heat exhaustion and were still lying on
various streets around Sydney.
The Bengal Merchant
set sail from Port Jackson on 26th February bound for Java.
Convicts of the Bengal Merchant - of the 267 landed -
retained for public service;
1 was unfit for assignment;
15 were in hospital;
29 were sent to work in
irons on Goat Island;
196 were assigned to Private Service.
Notes & Links:
1). James Ellis was also surgeon
on the convict ships
in 1833 and the
Hunter Valley convicts / passengers per Bengal Merchant in 1835
Ships to NSW in 1835